Monday, November 13, 2006

The Latin Mass

Amy Welborn as well as many of the other Catholic bloggers have been abuzz in the last month or so over the possibility that the Holy Father will loosen the indult on the Latin Mass. Cardinal Francis Arinze, the head of the Vatican's Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments visited St. Louis yesterday and spoke. His talk? "Language in the Latin Rite Liturgy: Latin and Vernacular."
In an hourlong, often humorous, address that received several standing ovations, Arinze suggested that, in order to give Catholics options, large parishes offer the Mass in Latin at least once a week, and in smaller, rural parishes, at least once a month. (Homilies, he said, should always be in the faithful's native language.) Latin "suits a church that is universal. It has a stability modern languages don't have," he said. (from STL today.)
As a transitional Catholic (one who celebrated the Mass in the Tridentine rite as a teen and the Novus Ordo since) I find myself torn. In my opinion the NO has many advantages over the Tridentine Mass, especially in the area of Full, Conscious, Active Participation, a requirement of the celebration. In memory, at least, it seemed that in most pre-NO Masses I attended most of the laity lacked FCAP.
Sacrosanctum Concilium the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, not only dictated the revision of the Roman Missal but also allowed experimentation to take place, with the proper supervision of the local ordinary, the bishop. Unfortunately it appears that the bishops weren't paying attention. The result has been a flood of practices of questionable heterodoxy. Recently, especially in the past year, the bishops, possibly under pressure from Rome, have started to curb the abuses.
The nature of the abuses is, I believe one reason the Tridentine Mass has enjoyed a resurgence. Use the 1962 Missal and you avoid all of the excesses.
I prefer a different way. A properly celebrated NO Mass can be said in Latin instead of the vernacular. The readings would still be said in the vernacular (necessary in my mind for FCAP) while the liturgy proper could be said in Latin.
Music is another area. Many modern compositions are mixtures of Latin and English, and I have attended Masses and XLT's where verses are sung first in Latin and then in English, making a very beautiful method of praying twice.

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